Non-invasive quantification of small bowel water content by MRI: a validation study

Phys Med Biol. 2007 Dec 7;52(23):6909-22. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/52/23/009. Epub 2007 Nov 8.


Substantial water fluxes across the small intestine occur during digestion of food, but so far measuring these has required invasive intubation techniques. This paper describes a non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique for measuring small bowel water content which has been validated using naso-duodenal infusion. Eighteen healthy volunteers were intubated, with the tube position being verified by MRI. After a baseline MRI scan, each volunteer had eight 40 ml boluses of a non-absorbable mannitol and saline solution infused into their proximal small bowel with an MRI scan being acquired after each bolus. The MRI sequence used was an adapted magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography sequence. The image data were thresholded to allow for intra- and inter-subject signal variations. The MRI measured volumes were then compared to the known infused volumes. This MRI technique gave excellent images of the small bowel, which closely resemble those obtained using conventional radiology with barium contrast. The mean difference between the measured MRI volumes and infused volumes was 2% with a standard deviation of 10%. The maximum 95% limits of agreement between observers were -15% to +17% while measurements by the same operator on separate occasions differed by only 4%. This new technique can now be applied to study alterations in small bowel fluid absorption and secretion due to gastrointestinal disease or drug intervention.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Water / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Intestine, Small / anatomy & histology*
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Tissue Distribution